Oracle's special offer

Larry Ellison, chief executive officer of Oracle Corp., last week told congressional leaders that the company would offer the Immigration and Naturalization Service free use of its technology and software experts to build a much-needed system to track foreigners entering and exiting the country.

Ellison, who met last week with Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), said in a written statement that the company is prepared to provide, free of charge, the Oracle software licenses for both testing and production of a complete national identification database.

Ellison also offered to devote approximately 1,500 engineers to building the system, which would be designed to work with other databases at other agencies, such as the State Department and the FBI.

Any technology that industry can provide would be helpful, especially as more people realize that the INS systems are part of a larger network of governmentwide data, said INS Chief Information Officer Scott Hastings. After recent discussions with IT executives, Hastings is convinced that the answer lies in finding short-term solutions to make the current systems more interoperable, not in developing a single big system, he said.

."You just can't sign up to that," Hastings said. "I certainly appreciate that it's free, but it locks you into a solution."

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